Review: HIGHLAND PARK 16yo – #37 hit

I recently had the chance to taste this 16 year old Highland Park at my friend’s house. It was so good thHighland park 16at we ended up emptying the half full bottle. Little did I know that this edition was withdrawn in April 2010. Had I known that I would probably have tried to savour it a bit more. I remember finding it significantly smoother and more enjoyable than the 12 year old Highland Park but without coming across as anything extraordinary. As one might expect this edition does not outcompete the 18 year old bottling. It follows the Highland Park spirit by being slightly sweet on the palate with only a tad of smoke. All in all a slightly above average whisky that in my opinion lacks intensity but is fairly good as an everyday drink.

VERDICT: This is a step up from the 12 year old Highland Park! While the taste is the same as its predecessors it appears more smooth and creamy. Unfortunately the production has been discontinued by now.

  (6.1/10)

Review: DALWHINNIE 15yo – #1 hit

This whisky has great sentimental value to me. It was the first Single Malt I ever bought and also – as far as Idalwhinnie-15-year-old can remember – the first I had the pleasure to taste. Back then I loved it. I do believe that my affection at that time was probably more based on limited experience than the actual flavor. However, one of the main reasons to why I loved Dalwhinnie was my preference for sweet and honeyed whiskies. Peat was not in my vocabulary yet. Given that the 15 year old Dalwhinnie delivers an abundance of honey-sweetness and dried tropic fruits, there is no wonder I liked it so much. Oak is also present giving it a good balance.

I would like to think that my taste has been refined since then but then again maybe there has just been a change in preference (towards more peated whiskies). Either way I currently find this dram rather average and a bit too dull for my taste.

VERDICT: A moderately good dram that would satisfy people preferring more sweet whiskies. Woody notes also appear together with a tingy bite on the finish.

  (5.5/10)

Review: HIGHLAND PARK 18yo – #39 hit

I have never been a huge fan of Highland Single Malts. Maybe because I am a devoted Islay man and crossing its boarders feels like cheating on the perfect woman. Anyways, if I were to be promiscuous it would be with an 18 year old….Highland Phighland-park-18yoark!

A dilemma often encountered by distillers is that too much aging will give the whisky a very dominating flavor of oak. On the other hand the aging can smoothen out some of the edges. Highland Park 18yo succeeds walking this very thin line and they have created a dram that perfectly combines very distinguishable woody notes with citrus, vanilla and butterscotch. The experience finishes off with just a tad of peaty smoke and all the rough edges, which appeared in the 12 year edition, are gone. Very Enjoyable!

VERDICT: Good balance between oak and sweet notes like vanilla and butterscotch. Its age also makes this Highland dram silky smooth which also makes it much more attractive than its younger brothers.

  (7.5/10)

Review: GLEN GARIOCH 1797 Founder’s Reserve – #69 hit

I very rarely buy a whisky without knowing anything about it and when I do it is usually as a gift. This was the case with Glen Garioch 1797 Founder’s reserve. I had never heard about Glen Garioch before but when I saw it on huge discoGlen Gariochunt some time ago I thought this is exactly what my dad is going to get for his birthday. I’ve tried giving him more excusive whiskies before without luck. I guess they have been too refined for his palate given that he always returns to his Famous Grouse. Anyways he was not especially keen about this one either and I tend to agree with him on this one.

My first impression was slight disappointment. It felt harsh and one dimensional with a high presence of white pepper. The finish is also very short. The appearance of green fruits and vanilla are altogether vague with citrus being most discernible. Heather also comes through at the end but without any lasting impact. At this price, with or without discount, I believe you can get a much better gift.

VERDICT: Altogether a bit dull and one dimensional! As there is not much complexity in this dram it is a shame to see so high concentration of white pepper. Together with the alcoholic punch It really deafens any notes of fruit and sweetness that might be present.

(5/10)

Review: CLYNELISH 14yo – #63 hit

With only around 1% of the whisky production dedicated to single malts, it is not strange iclynelish14yof you never heard about Clynelish before, I certainly hadn’t! The distillery resides at the northeastern coast of Scotland and has gained quite a reputation since its release of the 14 year old bottling in 2002.  Even though I had very low expectations for this single malt I must say I was slightly impressed. I am not much of a Highland guy but do appreciate a good dram when I taste one. What took me by surprise was its syrupy and creamy texture, especially considering its 46% abv., and its gentle contributions of both NaCl, Vanilla, and some vegetal notes. A rather unusual combination that works very well nonetheless. On the finish you have a little touch of oak and peas together with butterscotch. It is not a harsh whisky but somewhere in-between. A good everyday dram.

VERDICT: Very creamy, very gentle. A good Higland whisky without too much complexity.

(6/10)

Review: OBAN 14yo – #60 hit

Despite being one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland – and also one of the few left from the 18th century – Oban counts as one of the smallest with only 650,000 liters produced each year. As a consequence you will only find few standard bottlings availabOBAN_14yrs_SINGLE_MALT_750mlle with the 14 year old edition being the most famous. When Oban was established by the west Highland coast in 1794 An t-Òban (Gaelic for The Little Bay) was practically nonexistent as a town. Now, more than 200 years later, the town surrounds the distillery and has grown to around 8,000 inhabitants. Impressively, considering its production size, Oban is one of the 20 most sold single malts in the world and I can understand why. There is not the slightest bite only a thick full bodied creamy texture that slinks down without any effort. This must be one of the smoothest below 16yrs old single malts I have ever tasted! As malty toffee, saccharine, and butterscotch dominate the palate salty flavors emerge after awhile together with a passing touch of spring grass and dried citrus fruits. Like most smooth single malts it is not overly complex and I can’t really find the peat and smoke some people are raving about. Still I was definitely pleasantly surprised by this one.

VERDICT: Exceptionally smooth! This is how I would describe Oban in two words. On top of the smoothness you have a very good balance between caramel and salty sea notes. Highly recommendable.

(7/10)